Inquiries into the Mystery of Value: Accounting for the 'common good' at the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI) (1948-1973)

The Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) warmly invite you to join guest speaker Professor Paolo Quattrone from the Manchester Business School as he explores history of the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI)

  • Wed 2 Jun 21

    13:00 - 14:30

  • Online

    Join this Seminar

  • Event speaker

    Professor Paolo Quattrone, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Danson Kimani

The aim of the Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) research seminar series is to support our world-class research activities in four key areas: social responsibility and corporate governance; (management) accounting change (in privatized, public and third sectors); global development, corruption and accountability; and reporting, regulation and capital markets. The seminar series is also expected to promote inter-disciplinary research that links the work of members of the centre with others both within the university and with external institutions. 

Seminar abstract

The concept of ambiguity has been central in organization theory since its inception, with scholars debating whether it constitutes and obstacle or a resource for organising.

This seminar enters this debate by looking at the history of the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI), the largest State-owned Italian corporation which administered the funds of the so-called Marshall Plan at the end of World War II and contributed significantly to the Italian economic miracle.

Drawing on archival evidence to illustrate the development of value-added planning and budgeting in the immediate post-war period until their institutionalization in the mid-sixties.

It is shown how the emergence of these techniques was the result of a search for a practice of quantification that allowed the continuous interrogation of the catholic ideal of ‘common good’, rather than its crystallization in objective numbers.

For the key actors involved in the pursuit of legitimate forms of organising and social order in post-war Italy, common good was a religious ideal, undefined and unknowable.

Planning and budgeting embedded such ambiguity in rituals of quantification to pursue a compromise that it was impossible to achieve, given the multiplicity of interests in the fragmented Italian post-war society, but still worth the effort.



This seminar is free to attend with no need to book in advance.

Please contact the organiser for more details.


Speaker bio

Paolo Quattrone is Professor of Accounting, Governance and Society at the Alliance Manchester Business School. Before joining AMBS he has held chairs at the University of Edinburgh Business School and IE Business School, Madrid and was Reader in Accounting at Saïd Business School, and Official Student (Fellow) of Christ Church. He is Senior Editor & incoming Co-Editor-in-Chief at Organization Studies.

A truly international scholar, he has conducted research and taught at the Universities of Catania, Kyoto, Madrid Carlos III, Manchester, Oxford, Palermo, Siena, Stanford and Luigi Bocconi of Milan. His work addresses questions related to the emergence and diffusion of accounting and managerial practices in historical and contemporary settings. He is particularly interested in researching the relationships between material accounting visualisations and decision making, strategising, and governance in ambiguous and uncertain environments.

Professor Quattrone has published widely on the interface between management control and information technologies (especially ERPs), the history of accounting and management practices and thinking, and the managerialisation of higher education institutions and his works have appeared in journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Organization Studies, and Contemporary Accounting Research. His research on the Jesuit administrative and accounting practices has been featured in the Financial Times.

As Fulbright New Century Scholar at the University of Stanford, he conducted research on changes in business models and education. Professor Quattrone also served on the standing Scientific Committee of the European Accounting Association for several years. He is a Member of the Advisory Group on the Future of Corporate Reporting at the Financial Reporting Council. He teaches, consults, and researches in the area of Major Programme Management, where he is developing a series of impact case studies on reporting, governance and leadership practices to address issues of risk and uncertainty in complex organisations. He sits on the UK Infrastructure and Project Authority of the UK Cabinet and a member of the faculty of the Cabinet’s Major Programme Leadership Academy. He is also an Associate Fellow at Saïd Business School, Oxford where he teaches on the MSc in Managing Major Programmes and various other Executive Education offerings including the Victorian Major Project Leadership Academy in Australia


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